With Herrmans celebrating 60 years in the OEM business this year, CIN caught up with Business Unit Director Dan Liljeqvist to talk focus, markets and innovation…
Headquartered in Jakobstad, Finland, the Herrmans of today employs more than 280 people at its base and in its subsidiaries in Germany, the US, Taiwan and China.
In 1959, Bernhard Herrmans produced his first bicycle component, the rim tape, and quickly realised its potential. Sixty years later, the company is now a leading components manufacturer, designing and manufacturing grips, lights, chain guards, reflectors and rim tapes for the cycle industry.
Whilst Herrmans boasts a global interconnected sales team based in multiple locations around the world, Europe continues to be the manufacturer’s main market: “Although we’re a truly global company we are focusing on the European market in particular,” Liljeqvist explains. “It’s important to us to be a European manufacturer. Business has been good due to the sunny European weather and we seem to have had a good start to the year so far.”
The majority of Herrmans’ business is OEM, and the group’s grips and lights are continuing to see innovation throughout 2019. “Grips and lights are a big focus for us. We are actually planning to release a new product series at Eurobike this year,” divulges Liljeqvist. “Our sister company, Nordic Lights, enables us to borrow innovations from the automotive sector and apply them to bicycles, although it’s challenging. There is more regulation in the bike industry restricting the height and brightness of bicycle lights, especially in Europe.”
Herrmans is continually investing in its in-house research and development department, which harbours modern light and testing labs alongside the latest in simulation software. All products go through an extensive testing process to ensure they adhere to the manufacturer’s safety and quality standards.
“We make sure that we do not forget the basics of what we do best, and are known for,” says Liljeqvist. “We aim to improve our existing range, rather than just broaden it. As a company, our main focuses are on safety, comfort and innovation.”
With the growth of e-bikes displaying a decidedly upwards trend, how has Herrmans adapted to meet this escalating demand? “E-bikes and pedelecs are more demanding because they require better and more advanced components than traditional bicycles,” offers Liljeqvist. “We have a big emphasis on market research and strive to find, design and create the best solutions possible for our customers.”
Herrmans is also striving to reduce the environmental impact of its activities by implementing more sustainable operations, such as its responsible sourcing strategy. The majority of its aftermarket packaging is also recyclable, and it isn’t just the environment that the company is mindful of. “It is very important to us to support our customers in any way we can,” says Liljeqvist. “If a customer tries to diversify their price, then we must support them with that. Some customers like to see our own-branded components, while others prefer to have their own branding, it depends entirely on the customer. “For example, we collaborated with Selle Royal to match the material of our grips to the material of their saddle. It’s really important to do this, and to try to meet the customer’s wants, needs and requirements in whatever way we can,” he continues.
Herrmans will be exhibiting at a number of trade shows this year, namely Shanghai, Eurobike and Taichung. According to Liljeqvist, Taiwan is the next biggest market focus behind Europe and the company is passionate about supporting the local bicycle industry there. Herrmans already has a warehouse and offices on the island and exhibited at the Taipei Cycle Show held in March earlier this year.
Liljeqvist believes having someone on hand on the ground is integral to fulfilling the needs of that market successfully. “We want to support our customers locally,” he explains. “Having a global team in different locations around the world is really important to us and what we do. It means there is always someone on hand to help and solve a query or problem at all times.”
Working with the likes of Bianchi, Cannondale, Trek and Specialized, Herrmans collaborates closely with each individual customer, applying its knowledge and OEM capabilities to meet their business goals. According to the component manufacturer, its success is down to three core values: customer focus, sustainable operations, and being a great place to work.
Liljeqvist adds: “We are constantly looking to match future needs with our focus on research and development, whilst continuing to fulfil the needs of the market right now.”